Meet …Bantu Wax

Bantu founder Yodit Eklund talks surf culture and sustainable production.

I grew up all over Africa and now spend about 80 percent of my time traveling there for work. In 2009, I launched Bantu. I am a surfer and wanted to bring awareness to the continent’s under-the-radar beaches. There is more and more pollution because people don’t value the beaches in Africa. I thought if Bantu could expose people to the beaches, we could help preserve the environment.

We work with African designers to develop all our prints, which are based on wax cloth. Originally, wax cloth was brought over by Dutch traders; it stuck and has become a vital aspect of African culture today. We use the patterns of wax cloth and print them on technical fabric in Italy (the suits are all cut and sewn in Africa, though). Our craftswomen are trained to make seven styles of swimsuits, but we have so many prints that it ends up being a pretty big collection.

One of Bantu’s aims is to create jobs and help the local economy while also changing the outside view of the continent. We employ around 30 Africans in Ethiopia, South Africa and the Ivory Coast. And this spring we also started sponsoring a surf club in Sierra Leone called the Bureh Beach Surf Club.

Photographs courtesy of Oroma Elewa for Bantu.

To shop our entire Discovered assortment, including Bantu Wax swim, click here.

Studio Tour: Hartland Brooklyn

always fans of a handwritten note, we love the hand-drawn cards from Hartland Brooklyn—the company founded by fashion-designer-turned-illustrator Emily Johnson in 2012. we stopped by her charming studio, in Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill neighborhood, to see how she puts it all together.
Emily, photographed in her design studio, wears a J.Crew merino wool baseball sweater in scallop instarsia.

Emily grew up on her parents’ flower farm in upstate New York—a place she still returns to for inspiration. “My grandma is a watercolor artist, and we used to sit together in the garden and paint flowers,” she recalls. The house is in a tiny town called Hartland, and I knew I wanted that to be a part of the company’s name. It tells a story about where I came from and where I ended up.”

Drawing birthday cards for colleagues became a hobby of Emily’s while she was working as a fashion designer. To keep up with the demand, she started a small line of stationery in 2010. “I never planned this,” she says. “I just loved the fact that cards didn’t have to be serious.” The process starts with her sketchbook—she’s never without it—and then she comes up with a clever phrase, like “roll with me.” “I always think about what would make me buy a card.”
Photography by Bryan Derballa. Hair by Vensette.

To shop our entire Discovered assortment, including the Hartland Brooklyn postcards, click here.

a quick Google image search reveals that Nick Wooster is one of those guys who can pull off just about anything. unsurprisingly, he’s the first guy who came to mind when our design team showed us this tartan short suit. here, Nick shows us how it’s done.
Nick, photographed in the West Village, wears a Wallace & Barnes worker suit jacket and short in tartan cotton-linen, his own Thomas Mason® for J.Crew Ludlow shirt, a J.Crew tie, Alden for J.Crew shoes and a Comme des Garçons® Homme Plus belt.

You’ve been known to rock a short suit on more than one occasion. In the spirit of nostalgia, do you remember your first?
The first time I wore a short suit was right after a Thom Browne spring/summer show in July 2010. All I can say is, it was actually a J.Crew Ludlow suit (seriously). And it got me in trouble for a dress-code violation.

We’re feeling your neon belt you’re wearing with your short suit today…
It’s a few years old. I don’t remember when I bought it but it’s Comme des Garçons. I also have a hot-pink one.
Growing up, what influenced your style?
Everything and everyone. In a weird Mad Men sort of way, my first memory is of the office of my grandfather’s stock brokerage firm in Wichita, Kansas. This was 1965 and I was five years old. All I knew was that I wanted to wear a suit for work. I think this has informed all my opinions about what constitutes being well dressed.

You seem like a big sartorial risk taker. Any general guidelines for guys attempting big style leaps of faith at home?
First of all, I always say no one should like this (I am pointing at myself). First and foremost, any sartorial risk or experiment should feel right. You have to go with your gut. But if something feels oddly exciting and different, why not go for it? Start small—it might be pairing white canvas sneakers with a navy suit. (Please make sure the fit is impeccable.) Or it might mean ditching the tie and buttoning up the top button of your shirt (aka an air tie). Or maybe a grosgrain belt. Or shorts with a jacket. Summer is the perfect time to expand your sartorial horizons. Always be sure to use your significant other as a sounding board.
Photography by Justin Chung.

To shop the Wallace & Barnes worker suit in in tartan cotton-linen, click here.

Souvenir Shopping: Rajasthan, India

like all seasoned travelers, our Style Guide team are experts at bringing back little mementos from their trips. here, a look at some of their favorite finds from our June Style Guide shoot in Rajasthan, India’s (jaw-droppingly beautiful) largest state.
Spotted: Two of our models in the Udaipur City Palace in southern Rajasthan, a series of interconnected palaces made entirely from marble and granite.
To shop our latest arrivals, click here.

On the Rise: Juan Carlos Obando

one of the best parts of being involved with the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund is getting to work with up-and-coming talent, since each spring, we collaborate with the winners and runners-up on a capsule collection. this year, CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund runner-up, eveningwear designer Juan Carlos Obando, gave us a closer look as the inspiration behind his collection.
We were struck by how beautiful your office is—it’s like an art gallery curated
with thoughtful objects.

Honestly, I have always been obsessed with bookstores and wanted to recreate that feeling in my office. I love books. I’m constantly drawing upon them for inspiration or to get an idea going. As for the objects, they’re mostly things I find on my trips—some are rare and old, others are just witty and new, but they make me smile and remember certain moments in my life.

Clearly your background in graphic design has influenced your aesthetic. Tell us a bit more about this transition from art director at Saatchi & Saatchi to fashion designer?
I think that transition hasn’t really happened yet! It’s so funny, people ask this question a lot. I do have things that heavily influence my collections and some of them really come from my interest in graphic design—from the design of the show itself to the lookbooks and garment construction. I think of it as one interlinked narrative.

We’re told you have 1,024 books in your collection. Any favorites?
Juergen Teller is fantastic, and Bruce Weber and really any issue of Egoïste are at the top of my list. And, for sure, anything from Matthew Barney and Richard Serra.
What do you love about 192 Books in Chelsea?
I really love it here—the lighting is great and it’s supercomfortable to browse through books in a tranquil environment. I purchased a Raymond Pettibon book I had been tracking for a while too.
Safe to say these design and art books act as a kind of muse for you when you’re designing?
Always. And sometimes they tell you what to avoid—it all works as a great educational source.

When you think about the pieces you created for us at J.Crew—a silk georgette blouse, a mixed-media jumpsuit, a flouncy polka-dot skirt—do any books in particular come to mind?
I’ll have to go with All-American by Bruce Weber.

Photography by Bryan Derballa.

Special thanks to 192 Books in New York City.

To shop the entire Juan Carlos Obando for J.Crew collection, click here.

On the Rise: Marc Alary

one of the best parts of being involved with the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund is getting to work with up-and-coming talent, since each spring, we collaborate with the winners and runners-up on a capsule collection. this year, CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund runner-up, fine jewelry designer Marc Alary, tried his hand at costume jewelry just for J.Crew.
Marc, photographed on set with a model wearing a Marc Alary™ for J.Crew passerina tee based on a watercolor design he painted just for us.

Marc told us the Metropolitan Museum of Art is often a source of inspiration for him so we tagged along on a recent visit.

You went to art school originally, what drew you to fine jewelry making?
I started out doing illustrations, but I was always frustrated that I couldn’t carry the illustration with me; I needed to have something I could hold in my hand. Eventually, I started working in fashion doing prints and graphics for T-shirts. It added a new dimension to my work as it related to the body, yet it still wasn’t enough. It was only when I first tried my hand at jewelry that I knew it was what I wanted to do.

Is there a particular period of art you feel is closest to the aesthetic of your jewelry?
That is a good question, but I’m not sure I have exactly the right answer. I’d say Etruscan art and the end of the nineteenth-century Art Nouveau and Lalique. Then there are artists who came much later—Calder, Giacometti and Les Lalanne.

What are your favorite parts of the Met?
I love the Greek and Roman art for the lighting in the gallery, as well as all the tones of the marble statues. But I also love the medieval art and European paintings.

How did animals come to play such a prevalent role in your jewelry design?
My mom was very passionate about animals, and she used to collect books and magazines like National Geographic. I spent most of my childhood flipping through those magazines and fantasizing about seeing those incredible animals in real life.

Apart from the Met, where else do you find inspiration?
In pretty much everything, from something I see in the street or at the flea market to literature (for example, the opera, The Tales of Hoffmann). It could be a show, a ballet or an opera, or a detail of a sculpture or a fountain.

What was it like to work with J.Crew on a collection of costume pieces?
It was very interesting as the turnaround time was very different. I had to let go of controlling every single aspect of the development because normally every prototype is done by hand in my atelier in the garment district. But it was a great experience.

Photography by Bryan Derballa.

Special thanks to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

To shop Marc Alary’s collection of costume jewelry exclusively for J.Crew, click here.

CFDA Fashion Awards: A Love Letter

through our partnership with the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, we have the opportunity to work with some pretty impressive up-and-coming talent. on Monday, the CFDA hosted its annual awards event—often dubbed the Oscars of fashion—that recognizes both heavy hitters and names you may not have heard of yet. here, Jenna gives us a cheat sheet to the night’s biggest winners.
Bethann Hardison with model Iman.
From left to right: Liya Kebede, Chanel Iman, Bethann Hardison, Iman and Joan Smalls.
Dao-Yi (left) and Max (right) with Jenna in a peekaboo tank and Jeffries tuxedo jacket, both Public School™ for J.Crew.
Maxwell Osborne and designer Wes Gordon.
Past CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund nominee Wes Gordon with the stunning Liya Kebede. Wes was nominated this year for the Swarovski award for womenswear.
Menswear designer Todd Snyder (left) with actor James Marsden (right).
Rihanna, who wore a leave-little-to-the-imagination custom dress by Adam Selman, took home the fashion icon award. When she accepted her award, she said, “Anna Wintour makes the rules and I break them.”
Fine jewelry designer Jennifer Fisher (left) with model Anja Rubik (right).
Fashion Calendar founder, Ruth Finley accepts her award.
CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund runner-up Marc Alary (left), who was nominated this year for the Swarovski award for accessory design with Vogue Fashion News Director Mark Holgate (right).
The designer and his partner, Seth Weissman.
A Jenna, Karen and Courtney sandwich.
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen of The Row, who took home this year’s accessories designer of the year award.

Photography by

To learn more about this year’s collaboration with the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, click here.

On the Rise: Public School™

one of the best parts of being involved with the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund is getting to work with up-and-coming talent, since each spring, we collaborate with the winners on a capsule collection. this year, Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne of Public School took the top prize—and last night they added the CFDA menswear designer of the year award (!!) to their growing list of wins.
Designers Dao-Yi (left) and Maxwell (right) of Public School. The model wears a Love PS boys tank and an Earliblaze vest vest, both Public School for J.Crew.

The pair launched Public School, a menswear line, back in 2008 and have been designing out of Manhattan’s garment district ever since. As the name suggests, both guys came up through the New York City public school system (Maxwell at P.S. 41 in Greenwich Village and Dao-Yi at P.S. 69 in Queens), and the city acts as a kind of unofficial muse for them.
This February, the guys shook things up and presented a small women’s collection for fall/winter 2014 that went down the runway along with their men’s designs. (Jenna especially loved a pair of slouchy pants they designed, above, that had faux silk boxer shorts popping out the top.) For the J.Crew collaboration, they also tackled womenswear, designing eight pieces, including a mesh peekaboo tank, the Jeffries tuxedo jacket and the PS sweatshirt.
The guys hit the streets near Midtown’s garment district; outside Maxwell’s alma mater, P.S. 41.

Photography by Bryan Derballa.

To shop the entire Public School for J.Crew collection, click here.

Zooming In: Life’s a Beach

in honor of the first weeks of summer, we chatted with Gray Malin, one of our favorite photographers, who captures sun-soaked beach life in Sydney. he gets many of his photos by hanging out of a helicopter—how’s that for some summer-adventure inspiration?
“I love the thrill of having the helicopter door open and feeling the wind whipping against my face, camera shaking. It’s a rush of energy when you see a moment and lean in to capture it while dangling 500 or more feet above your subject.”
“Of all the beaches I’ve shot in the world, Sydney is my favorite. Beautiful water, colorful sunbathers, white-sand beaches, crowds of swimmers, numerous surfers and a variety of beach landscapes—it’s my heaven!”
“This was a very cool moment that happened during my most recent flight over Sydney. A group of people were swimming quite far from the shore, so we began to hover while I zoomed in and studied the scene. Sure enough, there was a dolphin playing with the crowd.”
“I am a geometry whiz (though was awful at algebra) and, for me, the bird’s-eye perspective reduces everything to form, shape and repetition within the frame of my camera. Hexagonal beach umbrellas, rectangular loungers—it makes my mind race as though I am solving a geometric equation each time I compose an image.”

To see more of Gray Malin’s photographs, visit his website here.
To shop our summer collection, click here.

What to Pack for: A trip to Austin, Texas

this month in Discovered, we introduced Apiece Apart, a line of wearable basics by best friends Starr Hout and Laura Cramer. we asked them about the West Texas road trip that started it all, and found out what’s in Laura’s bag for her next trip down south.
Travel is clearly an inspiration for you. Tell us about the road trip that inspired the start of the line.
LAURA: In 2008, I had moved to Austin, Texas, from New York, and on the brink of our 30th birthdays, we decided we had to spend them together—Starr and I were born a day apart. We took a road trip with our boyfriends (our now husbands) to West Texas, about a six-hour drive from Austin. Along the way, we had a lot of time to talk, and inspired by the landscape, we came up with the concept of building a simplified and perfect wardrobe.

How does your design process work?
STARR: We have a wonderful way of working together. It’s true flow. We inspire and challenge each other during the process. I believe that the secret is in the combination of our ideas.

What’s your approach to packing nowadays?
LAURA: Starr only brings a carry-on. As soon as I had my daughter, I had to consider more items than were packable in a single bag.

How would you both describe your approach to getting dressed?
STARR: Wear, wash, repeat.
LAURA: I’ll go with that too!

Anything you won’t travel without?
LAURA: Herban Essentials® original essential oil towelettes and a warm shawl or wrap for the plane. A good book!
STARR: My newborn baby, Finn Julian Hout, born April 12, 2014.
1. J.Crew twist bandeau top and lowrider bottom, both in black
2. Point Sur vintage cropped jean in griffin wash
3. Postcard from Saint Cecilia (Laura’s favorite hotel in Austin)
4. Apiece Apart Roberta crop top
5. Her own Apiece Apart Camilla high-waist trouser
6. Jurlique® rose hand cream
7. Her own Apiece Apart Delfina ruffle dress
8. Her own copy of The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
9. Her own Illesteva sunglasses
10. Printed espadrilles
11. Herban Essentials® original essential oil towelettes

To shop our entire women’s assortment, including the line Apiece Apart, click here.

© 2014 by J.Crew. All Images and materials are copyrighted by J.Crew unless otherwise noted.

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